Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Autumn Colour Watch: a mixed picture of colour

Posted: October 13, 2011 at 13:36 pm Author: Gina Mills

Autumn is a spectacular time of year at Westonbirt. This photo-packed blog will take you through the weekly highlights of what’s looking good and where. Photographs featured here have been taken in the few days prior to publication. Visit the Forestry Commission website for more information about what’s happening at Westonbirt during autumn.

Many of you may have noticed that after an initial early start to autumn, widely reported in the press, things are now going at rather a sedate pace. For us at Westonbirt, this means that although we had a dazzling display of colour from our maples during the first week of the autumn colour watch blog and continue to see the fruits and berries I wrote about last week, further developments to autumn colour are happening much more gradually than we had perhaps anticipated.

Japanese maple along Willesley Drive set against green maplesNational Japanese Maple CollectionThe Link Japanese maples

It seems that whilst autumn came early to some of Westonbirt’s trees, there are many still to turn. All over Silk Wood you’ll see the contrast of the ‘first wave’ of colour and those trees waiting to be spurred on by a frost or two. One of our Tree Team assures us that there are still many more trees to show autumn colour and the specimens that have turned early have done so because of the ‘stress’ caused by the dry weather. The Japanese maples pictured above in Silk Wood (Willesley Drive, National Japanese Maple Collection and The Link) are all good examples of the combination of colour at present.


There are now some lovely variations in leaf colour around. You might expect this from the Persian Ironwood which is famed for its multicoloured leaves during autumn. But in other spots around the arboretum the same is true. The shagbark hickory is on its way to turning bright golden yellow, but at present has leaves that show a combination of yellow and green as a backdrop to its shiny fruit (this one on Main Drive), whilst the maples again show a range of colours. The Korean Acer pseudosieboldianum perched on a grassy bank near Skilling Gate really stands out against the green backdrop of grass and other specimens yet to turn for autumn – a story repeated throughout the Silk Wood.


Although I got rather carried away with Sorbus last week I can't resist showing you a few more that are looking fantastic in the Old Arboretum at the moment. They really are worth seeking out for the sheer variety of berry colours and leaf colours, as they now start to turn. Some are absolutely laden with fruit as you can see!


It is also worth keeping an eye out for the quince at the top of Holford Ride, which has a fair crop of fruit - although its branches are a little prickly as I discovered! Viburnums are also in full berry (this one in the Old Arboretum) and there is a good variety of Cotoneaster - you can see this one on Willesley Drive is covered in berries.


Fungi are another fascinating feature of autumn in our woodlands. Above are a selection of images of some of the fungi that are around at the moment. Look out for them in both the Old Arboretum and Silk Wood. If you'd like to get a better knowledge and be able to identify these, how about joining a walk around Westonbirt with Dave Shorten from the Cotswold Fungi Group on 29 October? He'll be investigating the fungi at westonbirt and their trees.

Useful links:

Directions to Westonbirt Arboretum (our postcode is GL8 8QS)